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IT'S FRESH, IT'S ORGANIC, IT'S BEL SOLEY

 

Economic Development in Haiti through Organic Food

Opportunity -  
 A window has opened for economic development in Haiti. Improved governmental stability and support by international governments and NGOs for ‘profitable’ economic development means that interested persons can now begin to leverage the natural advantages of Haiti:  close proximity to the US; tropical climate; naturally organic environment; massive outside support programs; and natural entrepreneurial spirit. If economic, social and political factors continue in a self-reinforcing spiral, then Haiti can become one of the next – and most surprising! – world economic tigers.
 The easiest entry point for economic development and one of the more obvious and attractive markets is organic food. Haitian poverty has crippled the ability of the country to develop intensive agricultural production - few farmers could afford chemical fertilizers and insecticides necessary for typical western style factory farms. But this misfortune is now an opportunity in a world with increasing demand for organic food. Haiti is a naturally green island. With low land and labor costs and close distance to the US, Haitian farmers can grow organic food for US markets at very advantageous costs.


Model –
 There are real challenges to launching a business in Haiti.  At the core, there is a significant circular problem: businesses need infrastructure (both physical and social) to operate successfully, but to support the cost of developing infrastructure, there have to be businesses that demand – and will financially sustain – the infrastructure. Generations of government and non-government efforts have failed because there has been little consideration of the entire value chain. Programs start with great intentions, but no plan for long term operations.  When the outside money is gone, the program stops. In addition there has been a serious disconnect between Haitian cultural standards and American business expectations; there has been continual frustration on both sides because of a lack of understanding and ability to bridge the gaps.
 A new approach and business model is needed for Haiti.  This business model is to set up small, for-profit businesses in decentralized (rural) areas that partner with both a local Haitian non-profit and its international supporters.  This hybrid model allows the non-profits to do what they do best – providing education, training, micro-credit loans, etc. – while the “for profit” business buys, processes and distributes the goods.  The businesses also combine the best of Haitian culture and American standards in a harmonized approach.
 Bel Soley (“beautiful sun”) is the first manifestation of this hybrid model, formed by a combination of business people and Community Coalition for Haiti (CCH: a non-profit based in northern Virginia supporting health and improvement efforts primarily in Pignon, Haiti)  . Bel Soley, Inc., is the American based distribution company with a Haitian subsidiary, Bel Soley d’Ayiti, SA (Société Anonyme) for Haitian operations.  The companies are a true Haitian-American combination: Haitian in appearance and culture, American in quality, information technology and business standards, and Haitian-American in management.


Application of the Model to the Organic Food Opportunity
 The Haitian-American Bel Soley business concept is being applied as Bel Soley Foods. With initial investor capitalization of more than  $1M (US) and purchase orders from American wholesalers, Bel Soley Foods is active in two areas of Haiti.  The Bel Soley operation in the northern part of Haiti leverages CCH support in Pignon to produce dried fruit and noni juice and the operation in the southern part of the country leverages NGO support in Les Cayes to produce peppers and dried fruit.   Substantial growth is planned for both locations. Bel Soley is also actively developing businesses in other locations in Haiti and is actively seeking partners for those locations.


Benefits-
American investors benefit by investing in a high yield operation. Because of low costs in Haiti and excellent purchase prices in the US, Bel Soley is targeting net profit margins in excess of 30%.
 Individual Haitians and the Haitian economy as a whole will benefit. Within five years, at the two initial locations of the company alone, the company plans to employee directly more than 300 employees at average pay well in excess of average Haitian pay. The indirect benefit will be much more far reaching. Intial indication is that the income of the individual farm family supplier to Bel Soley would increase dramatically (2X to 4X), both through a sustained market outlet and increase yield.  Farmers would be able to afford clothes for school, roofs that do not leak, medical care, a diet with protein and a bit of extra income for micro-business for the women after the season is over.  At the five year mark, at the two initial locations alone, Bel Soley will be acquiring products from over 3,000 farm families. In addition, the increased prosperity in Bel Soley towns would provide economic support for improved medical care, construction of roads and utilities, improved schools and police and such fundamentals as improved goods in stores.  

 The opportunity is real…..the time is now….the costs are minimal –Let's make it happen!

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